Mr. Baguette in Monterey Park

After hearing about Mr. Baguette for over a year, I finally got to taste one of the sandwich shop’s creations.

I thought there was only a Mr. Baguette in Rosemead and I hardly ever go through the city let alone stop somewhere there to eat.

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But by chance, I happened to be driving north on Atlantic Blvd. in Monterey Park one Saturday afternoon, spotted this location on the right side and knew I had to take a detour from my original destination.

When I first perused the displayed menu, I was surprised by the variety of cuisines offered at what I thought was a mainly French-inspired sandwich shop. There are Vietnamese inspired sandwiches and new to the shop are the beef and chicken fajitas sandwich.

The new addition looks to combine Mexican cuisine with the signature French baguette bread. The sandwiches come with beef or chicken finely chopped fajitas, in-house salsa sauce, and Monterey Jack cheese.

They even offer Jarritos, a line of fruit-flavored sodas that are a favorite in Mexico.

Though sandwiches do take over the menu, you can start off with pate chaud or pork or chicken meat pies, a ham and cheese roll, or a bowl of clam chowder or chicken curry.

Sandwich selections vary from classic French baguette sandwiches to Vietnamese-French combinations.

There is the classic brioche in a variety of meat or veggie options in a smaller-size French roll bread. There is a variety of croissant sandwiches or just get them plain.

Contemporary sandwiches come with mayonnaise spread, lettuce, tomatoes and American cheese with your choice of meats like grilled beef, roast beef or tuna.

The condiments can be substituted with the house special salad of carrots, daikon and chili peppers.

The Classic sandwiches are served with the house salad and come in varieties such as pork meat loaf, pate pork meat loaf, chicken, meatball, veggie or a combination of meats.

I craved a Vietnamese style sandwich that comes with carrots and chili peppers so I went simply with a grilled pork classic. 

My sister and adventure companion decided to try the Saigon probably more for the name. The Saigon comes with a combination of hot Vietnamese-style bacon and pork meat loaf.

She forewent adding the house salad topping which comes on the side in a small bag when ordered to go. Even though the pork in her sandwich looked different than we’re used to seeing, she said it was a tasty combination of meats and devoured it in less than 10 minutes.

I had to add the house salad to my sandwich, especially the chili peppers to give it a nice kick. I have been to some Vietnamese restaurants that serve these types of sandwiches, known there as banh mi, and most of the time the peppers are spicy.

Mr. Baguette was no exception but it was a great balance to the nicely sliced carrots and daikon, which is a type of radish. The grilled pork was nicely seasoned and grilled to a nice tenderness.

The final touch that made the sandwich deliciously scrumptious was the baguette. A nice warm toasty on the outside and soft on the inside.

What I love even more about Mr. Baguette are the prices. You can get a simple sandwich for under $3. Our sandwiches were less than $4 for a good size.

Having such a variety of beverages as sandwiches, my sister and I had to try something from that menu as well.

I went with the boba thai iced tea for $2.50 and my sister gave the mango smoothie a try for $3.85 and 35 cents extra for boba. 

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The thai tea had a nice taste and the boba balls were larger than I’ve had in other boba drinks but I didn’t find anything much special in their tastes. They just added some texture.

My sister felt the same way about the boba but enjoyed her fresh-tasting smoothie just the same.

Mr. Baguette is open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and has three locations in the San Gabriel Valley located at:

  • 400 S. Atlantic Blvd., #288 in Monterey Park, (626) 282-9966
  • 8702 E. Valley Blvd. in Rosemead, (626) 288-9166
  • 9661 E. Garvey Ave., #101 in South El Monte, (626) 575-8632

Dining on a budget: Pho 2007 in Rowland Heights

I fell in love with banh mi sandwiches after I first tasted them at Xa Vietnamese Grill restaurant in Irwindale.

But sadly, Xa Vietnamese closed months ago and has left me longing for those tasty French Vietnamese sandwiches.

So I scoured the Internet and surveyed colleagues for nearby Vietnamese restaurants that served the baguette sandwiches.

Mr. Baguette in Rosemead was suggested plenty of times but it is not in the coverage area of our weekly community newspapers (I will give them a try later anyway).

After finding many pho spots on the Web, I hit on Pho 2007 in Rowland Heights. Though not really near the office, I thought I would give it a try since it is within our coverage.

As I drove up Colima Road toward a little side street called Otterbein, I knew I found the place when I was greeted with a large “Pho 2007″ sign over what used to be a Taco Bell restaurant.

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I was eagerly greeted as soon as I entered and was handed a menu, which varied from spring roll appetizers to banh mi sandwiches, and pho (rice noodle soup) to rice plate entrees, and more.

I took a chance on three original shrimp spring rolls for $4.50, and a banh mi sandwich with grilled pork for $3.25.

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The rolls come with about three medium-sized shrimp (cooked and peeled), small pieces of cooked chicken, cilantro leaves, lettuce and vermicelli rice noodles, all tightly wrapped in rice paper.

The rolls were nicely sized for their price (I only finished one) and the accompanying peanut sauce was a great complement.

The first thing I noticed about the sandwich was the size. It was wider than what I was used to. When I unwrapped the paper covering the sandwich, I found out why.

Pho 2007 used a bolillo (a thick and wide Mexican roll) instead of a baguette (long, thin French bread).

This made the sandwich a little difficult to bite into, but I knew my way around a bolillo so I dug into the thick crusty bread. 

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I liked that the sandwich had all the banh mi ingredients I was used to – sliced carrots and cucumber, cilantro sprigs, and sliced jalapeno with a light spread of mayonnaise. The sandwich also had a half-round slice of tomato, it was nice but a little too thick so it kept coming out. 

The pork was nicely seasoned with soy sauce and something a little sweet. The pieces were nicely sliced, not very fatty, which you may find with pork, and slightly grilled. 

For the price, I would say the sandwich definitely satisfied my craving for banh mi.

But I can’t say how often I will go out of my way from the northwest side of West Covina to the southeast end of San Gabriel Valley just to get to Rowland Heights. That would take up my whole lunch hour.

Of course, those cravings don’t go away forever …

Pho 2007 is at 19208 Colima Road in Rowland Heights and is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They are closed on Tuesdays.

Be sure to have cash in hand as they do not accept any cards. $5 dollar dine-in specials are offered on Wednesdays. For information and to-go orders, call (626) 839-8100.